They say that the best characters in literature are timeless. To put this idea to the test, I’m conducting an exhaustive series of interviews with some people you may know. I begin today with Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, the famous love interest of Miss Elizabeth Bennet from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I managed to flag him down in the streets of Baltimore a week ago Thursday and recorded the following dialog:
Me: Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today, Mr. Darcy.
D: (He smiles) I’ll sit down with anyone who’ll buy me one of these Caramel Macchiatos. What did you say your name was?
Me: Tom Ulicny. I wrote The Lost Revolution.
D: (He takes a sip gives me another smile – thinner this time) Oh yes, of course, THAT Tom Ulicny.
Me: So how’s Elizabeth these days – I mean Mrs. Darcy. I assume you’re still together. It’s been what, about 200 years?
D: Yes, about that, and yes, we’re still together (he sighs) – you don’t spend all that time and trouble on the courtship process only to part company after a couple of centuries. Elizabeth is doing just fine. She’s taken a fancy to bowling but is having trouble with the ball getting caught up in her skirts.
Me: And do you bowl as well?
D: Just a few times. Even with her skirts and all, Elizabeth is much better at it than am I. Sometimes we read together in the library at Pemberley. Yes, that’s great fun. I admit though, the place is getting a bit drab these days. That’s how you happened to catch me out here – visiting America, having a walk, getting some sun with the common-folk.
Me: Any children?
D: I don’t think so, no, I’m quite sure about that. (He pulls thoughtfully at his chin then looks at me brightly) I have a dog though – a Great Dane. I call him Mr. Bingley.
Me: And how about you? What do you do for a living?
D: Excuse me?
Me: I assume you work? You have a job – own a business – something?
D: I own Pemberley, my work there is a full time preoccupation. If you’ve ever seen Downton Abbey you’ll know what I mean. I love that show, at least the first season – it’s so progressive.
Me: Do you follow American politics? What do you think of the current election cycle?
D: I still have a hard time accepting the idea that you fellows broke off from the Empire. Aside from that, political squabbles are just a distasteful but necessary part of this democratic system of yours. I wouldn’t get too worked up over them. But really, elections every four years? - You should just elect a king and be done with it.
Me: What do you think of the Internet?
D: Well, it’s just a mess, isn’t it? Like a big, messy library – never know who or what you’ll run into as you turn each aisle. It can be very exciting. But if you want to meet someone in particular there are a lot of forms you have to fill out. They ask a lot of personal questions you know.
Me: That sounds like a dating site. Do you subscribe to dating sites?
D: (Aghast) Oh no, not me. I have a friend who does. Supposedly, that’s how most couples meet nowadays. Dating sites are wonderful things. They would have saved Elizabeth and me a lot of trouble. I don’t think Jane would have approved though.
Me: She was pretty straight-laced.
D: Tell me about it. (He finishes his Macchiato. His face brightens again - see photo, above, right)
Me: I have one last question – Is there any advice you’d like to give to young people who are looking for someone to spend their lives with?
D: Why yes, I believe I do have some guidance to give. (He ponders the matter for a moment then leans closer). When considering someone for a life companion, don’t look for perfection in them so much as for an enduring contentment within yourself. (He uses his walking stick to get to his feet. I rise too and we shake hands)
Me: That’s sage advice indeed, Mr. Darcy. Thank you again for your time.